Catching Up with the Renners: The Town

Unlike Ben Stiller, who blossoms most brightly when directed by someone else, I think that Ben Affleck does best when he directs himself. His latest vehicle is “The Town“, a crime drama about a gang of bank robbers in Boston, whose routine gets upset quite severely by two women. Ben Affleck stars as mild-mannered Doug MacCray, who shares his Charlestown digs with best friend Jimmy Coughlin (Jeremy Renner) and his sister, who still has a major crush on Doug. Together with two friends they form a gang specializing in robbing banks and armored cars, usually under the direction of Fergie “The Florist” Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), an old-school boss without conscience or qualms. In the beginning, we watch them rob a bank, then take the bank manager, Claire (lovely Rebecca Hall), as a hostage, thereby unbeknownst to them throwing the first monkey wrench into the gears of their well-oiled machinery.

At the same time that Doug and Claire’s relationship evolves, Jimmy’s violent tendencies become more and more uncontrollable. Doug decides to turn his back on crime after one last job for Fergie. Enter monkey wrench number two in the character of his former lover, Jimmy’s sister Krista (Blake Lively). And, of course, the gang must evade the law in form of FBI agent Adam Frawley (played with steely determination by Jon Hamm).

While the storyline is not entirely unpredictable, this is a solid movie with a well ensembled cast. The action is enough to keep things entertaining for just over two hours, but in my opinion, it is the quiet moments that work best here. The ending is sweet without being sappy, and somehow you feel ok about rooting for the conflicted Doug, who’s not exactly a good guy, just better than most of the others.

Jeremy Renner doesn’t just play Jimmy, for the duration of the film he is Jimmy, with all his fierce loyalty to family and friends, his screwed up family values and shoot-first, ask-questions-later attitude. My favorite movie moment is not necessarily a Renner moment, though, exactly because he is such an integrated part of a great cast; it’s the scene after the second robbery when the gang just manages to evade the police – ’nuff said. Just watch it, you can’t miss it!

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